WUNC Music

Tift Merritt's latest album cover
Alexandra Valenti

Tift Merritt is throwing a party Saturday night at the North Carolina Museum of Art. M.C. Taylor of Hiss Golden Messenger, Eric Slick of Dr. Dog, and Alexandra Sauser-Monnig from Mountain Man will be there. So will someone who calls himself the Suitcase Junket.

Many a singer has sung of mustering the strength to overcome hardship; it's the stuff of blustery power ballads, irrepressible empowerment anthems and aggressively aggrieved rock sing-alongs. But it's a simpler thing to narrate that act through lyrics than it is to embody that experience through a vivid performance.

Sometimes, all you have to hear is a few notes, and you know that a voice has been lived in; you can hear a long life of ups and downs, a rich and weathered sound.

More Tunes And Tales From Vegas: American Songster Radio Episode 14

Aug 13, 2017
Gus Canonn, jug and banjo, Ashley Thompson, guitar, and Noah Lewis harmonica (Gus Cannon's Jug Stompers around 1928)
Public Domain/ WUNC

When Dom Flemons first came across the story of African American songster Gus Cannon, one fact took him by surprise.  "[Gus Cannon] was a blackface performer, but he was a black man," Flemons says, recalling his initial reaction.  "How can this be?  That you can have an African American man be a part of a type of entertainment that, when I’d read about it in books, they would say that it was demeaning to black people?"  

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

What do Salt-N-Pepa, Amy Winehouse, Oasis and the theme song to the animated TV show "Futurama" have in common - these six seconds.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE WINSTONS' "AMEN, BROTHER")

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

NOTE: Each day this week we'll be rolling out a series of videos from Sylvan Esso that comprise the duo's upcoming visual EP, Echo Mountain Sessions. Today's installment is a performance of the song "The Glow." You can see other videos in the series here.

NOTE: Each day this week we'll be rolling out a series of videos from Sylvan Esso that comprise the duo's upcoming visual EP, Echo Mountain Sessions. Today's installment is a performance of the song "Slack Jaw." You can see other videos in the series here.

NOTE: Each day this week we'll be rolling out a series of videos from Sylvan Esso that comprise the duo's upcoming visual EP, Echo Mountain Sessions. Today's installment is a performance of the song "Die Young." You can see other videos in the series here.

NOTE: Each day this week we'll be rolling out a series of videos from Sylvan Esso that comprise the duo's upcoming visual EP, Echo Mountain Sessions.

A picture of Jenn Wasner
Courtesy of Paley Fairman

Jenn Wasner is best known as half of the Baltimore-based band Wye Oak. But for the past few years, she's been quietly working away at her own music under the banner Flock of Dimes

When Josh Ritter began to write new songs, he felt an absolute impending storm. And this singer, songwriter, painter and author, with almost twenty years of songwriting behind him, began looking for a new way to approach his muse.

On this edition of All Songs Considered, hear Josh Ritter talk about the creative process for his soon-to-be-released album Gathering, along with a premiere of his new song "Showboat," or read his essay below. — Bob Boilen

From the sounds of things on the phone, Lizz Wright is going about the business of her daily life while she gives thoughtful responses to her interviewer's questions. There's the ding of a bell as a shop door closes behind her, a whispered "Hi" and, later, the electronic chiming that reminds you to fasten a car's seatbelt.

Reese McHenry's got a voice like a preacher turning a standard sermon into a cathartic epiphany. Sometimes her croon has a country twang; at other times, she melds bluesy growl with smooth melodic hums. Whatever mode she's in, her voice is always an attention-grabber.

Dom Flemons 'What Got Over' Release
Dom Flemons

When Dom Flemons was in the studio making his album Prospect Hill, the engineer made a casual comment that pushed the material in an unexpected direction. “Maybe you should sell some of those beats to a hip-hop artist!” the engineer quipped. 

Songs We Love is a series and a podcast that looks at the stories behind some of the songs we're playing on our new music discovery stream, WUNC Music.

On this episode, Eric Hodge chats with John Moreland about his song "Lies I Chose To Believe" from the album Big Bad Luv.

Moreland's catalog is filled with songs that tug at your heartstrings, and "Lies I Chose To Believe" is no different. He says the key to writing an emotional song like this one is to not over think it.

Rhiannon Giddens Speaks For The Silenced

Jul 3, 2017

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Canadian-born Leif Vollebekk spoke with WUNC Morning Edition Host Eric Hodge about his latest album "Twin Solitude."
Courtesy of Leif Vollebekk

Leif Vollebekk was born in Canada, but his music is influenced by his travels to France, Iceland and New York. Now he calls Montreal home. 

Guitarist Dave Rosser, best known as a later-stage guitarist for both The Afghan Whigs and The Twilight Singers, died yesterday in New Orleans from cancer complications at 50 years old, his manager confirmed to NPR.

Rosser was also a busy sideman and studio presence in recent years, contributing to Tim Heidecker's semi-comedic 2016 album In Glendale, recent work from Mark Lanegan, including "Ode to Sad Disco," and The Internet's 2015 album Ego Death, including the song "Go With It."

John Paul White
Allister Ann / Sacks and Co.

Songs We Love is a series and a podcast that looks at the stories behind some of the songs we're playing on our new music discovery stream, WUNC Music.

This time Eric Hodge sits down with John Paul White to talk about his song "What's So" from the album Beulah.

Fleet Foxes

It's been six years since the last release from Fleet Foxes.  The Seattle-based band's first two records met with critical and commercial success, selling more than 2-million copies and winding up on many a critic's best of list.  The music found a home with a large and loyal fan base, but more than half-a-decade is a long wait. 

Grandaddy frontman Jason Lytle has always been more comfortable with machines than people. It's a dynamic he's well-documented, and even romanticized, in his work, with tales of misfit characters and their troubled relationships with everything from robots to appliances. Perhaps it's because mechanical friendships don't require much of an emotional investment — they're not built on a lot of open and earnest discussions.

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